Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ike & Tina Turner - Bold Soul Sister

Mr. & Mrs. Turner
Ike Turner was a wife beating tyrant in a Beatle wig. There you have it. Ike Turner’s career history (as it currently stands). There’s also a lot of music in there (somewhere), but none of it matters now. actually own some of his records. I’m not here to defend Ike Turner’s behavior (I’m not sure even he’d feel comfortable trying to do that). No matter how great your music is, nobody scores points in the great beyond when said music is created using a cuban heeled boot as a weapon. That said, it doesn’t help that most people only know Ike as the bass voice going “ROOOOLLLLIN’, during the slow parts of ‘Proud Mary’. The truth is a little more complicated than that. Starting in the early 50’s, Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm not only recorded what many believe is the first rock’n’roll record (“Rocket 88”), but also spent time in the studio backing folks like Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf. Then Ike met Tina (or Annie Mae as she was known in 1956). After a hitch as a backup singer, Tina moved to the front of the band and recorded the R&B smash ‘A Fool In Love’ in 1959, and the musically fertile - but otherwise torturous – period began. Between 1960 and 1966 Ike, Tina, the Ikettes and the Kings of Rhythm laid down a serious pile of quality wax for a variety of labels, including Ike & Tina cuts like ‘I Idolize You’ Ike & the KOR stuff like the mighty ‘New Breed’ and Ikettes numbers like ‘Don’t Feel Sorry For Me’. This catalogue, taken as a whole (assuming, properly that while quite possibly a complete psycho, Ike was also an auteur of sorts and was largely responsible for the sounds on those records) is one of the great transitional artifacts linking R&B, rock’n’roll and soul. Ike Turner – unbridled id, violent, coke-addled nutjob – was also a hell of a songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. Then, in 1966, Ike and Phil Spector ended up in the same studio and a monumental explosion was heard that flattened trees and blew out windows in the surrounding area. That explosion was ‘River Deep Mountain High’, the record that despite it’s high quality would fail to make much of a mark on the US charts (though it was a hit in the UK), and would send Spector into a reclusive, gun-toting tailspin from which he never completely recovered. It also marked the beginning of the end for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, in that Tina’s star began to eclipse the rest of the show. In the next few years they would record no less than three live albums, the last of which, ‘Ike & Tina Turner In Person’ included the Ikettes smoking version of James Brown’s ‘There Was a Time’. By 1969, the Ike & Tina machine was running full speed ahead. That year alone they would release 9 albums. One of those LPs was ‘The Hunter’. Composed largely of blues & R&B covers (Albert King, Jimmy Reed, Barbara George and others), ‘The Hunter’ was also home to the funkiest record Ike & Tina Turner ever made, that being ‘Bold Soul Sister’. It’s important to note that Ike & Tina didn’t record all that much out and out funk. They made some “funk-y” records, some rocking soul, and a shitload of chittlin’ circuit R&B and blues, but not much to whet the appetite of the funk 45 crowd. ‘Bold Soul Sister’ on the other hand, is a record so powerful, so savage that it takes the energy of any ten other funk records and distills them down into a single, brutal cut. Borrowing the riff from Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Sing A Simple Song’, ‘Bold Soul Sister’ opens with Ike’s rusty sounding guitar, some very “live” sounding drums and a scream from Tina. Tina then goes into her rap: Thangs and stuff and stuff and thangs and...and stuff I’m a Bold Soul Sister! BSS! Then the Ikettes drop in with a:“Boooooollld Soul Sister!” Then Tina raps about a ‘sockitome biscuit’ (???) and a bunch of other crazy stuff, and the Ikettes are right there behind her ‘Doin’ whatcha wanna when ya wanna how ya wanna now, do your thing soul sister!’ And Ike and the band are funking it up the whole time in the background, sounding like Fat Alberts Junkyard Band coming down off a LSD, Jello Pudding and Cold Duck high. The overall feel , that of a revival meeting gone acid-fried can be attributed to some degree to the production of Bob Krasnow, who’s curriculum vitae was at the time was composed in it’s entirety of the first two Captain Beefheart LPs. It’s not too hard to draw a line from the sound of Beefheart’s ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ to Ike & Tina’s ‘Bold Soul Sister’. Same jagged energy, same blues roots, same reach for psychedelic salvation folding back in on itself like some kind of demented Moebius strip (as any Moebius strip that started with Captain Beefheart and ended with Ike & Tina Turner would have to be). It helps to take a look at the cover of the LP. Ike is there, looking mean in his mod suit, Tina looking equally mean with her Wilma Flintstone goes to Nutbush City Limits getup (fur sandals???) – the two of them surrounded by creepy mannequins. Huh?? Thangs and stuff and stuff and thangs indeed.... The following year Ike & Tina would have their biggest hit (Top 40 in most markets, Top 10 in a few) with their explosive cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’. After that it was all down hill. The next 35 years can be condensed into a single sentence - Tina finally fought back, escaped from Ike, became a huge solo star, wrote a book, ended up on Oprah, Ike Turner’s a dick etc, etc, etc.

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Blogger Todd Lucas said...

Indeed a great, great song. I was lucky enough to find the 45 a couple of years ago.

9/14/2005 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous bbb said...

hi larry
it's albert collins playing there
like on a lot of bluesy stuff by ike & tina
thank you again for your great blog

9/14/2005 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

I did some searching and according to a couple of sources (including Robert Cray who apparently confirmed it with Collins and Turner both) it is Albert Collins. You learn something new every day!

9/15/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Dont' have that album - yet - but I did recently unearth the single. Wowie zowie - and....stuff! Bold choice, Mr. Larry.

9/16/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i totally agree and love that track, how far would i go for BSS on vinyl?
also, do you get sockitome biscuit is
SOCK IT TO ME Biscuit... maybe not a cracker...
xxx Hollywood Killed My Magic Mullet
I play a funk n disco night here in newcastle, australia, look at our frappr site if u like

4/25/2006 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

Yea...I gotta agree.
This is a great song...
but I wouldnt say she did to much singing.

She kinda yelled alot.

I wish I could get paid for yelling stuff that aint make no sense.

1/18/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Cathy Cooper said...

Baby, Tina channels something beyond our comprehension. Bold Soul Sister is the song that introduced me to that band.
Two words, honey: Soko Richardson.

Fo Sho.

4/10/2011 12:37:00 PM  

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